Large technology companies suspended the delivery of data requested by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Hong Kong after it announced that it would monitor the city’s internet.
Companies such as Microsoft Corp. Facebook, Google, and Twitter decided in a confrontation that is not new since Google’s 2010 exit from China also left the mainland dominated by the Communist Party of China (CCP), as Japan Times recalled on July 8.
However, for Hong Kong, the services of a free and fully accessible internet are as important as they could be for any other person in the world’s great capitals, so it is foreseeable that their restriction and censorship will mark the beginning of the exodus of entrepreneurs and specialized people from the prosperous city.
“Google is very important to the people here, and if it is cut, then it is really very serious,” warned Richard Harris, a former head of Citi Private Bank who now runs Port Shelter Investment Management in Hong Kong.
“In Hong Kong, we don’t know where the limits are, and that’s a threat to a lot of entrepreneurs,” Harris added, predicting to some extent a shutdown of the financial activity of the Pearl of the Orient, as Hong Kong is also known.
The new national security law imposed by the CCP intervenes and represses any action or citizen that is deemed threatening and therefore granted extensive powers to the police, including warrantless searches, confiscation of property, online surveillance, and generally to “take any action” to maintain the Party.
“The new rules are scary, as they grant powers to the police force that are normally guarded by the judiciary,” barrister Anson Wong Yu-yat told the South China Morning Post.
“We are absolutely heading for a confrontation, and there is no indication that the Hong Kong government is particularly prepared if Facebook or another company refuses a request for removal,” said James Griffiths, who is a journalist and writer, according to the Japan Times.
While many companies in Hong Kong are struggling amid the uncertainty of the regulations imposed on them by Beijing, they are still tempted by the turnover and profits to which they are accustomed.
For some, it would be foolish to block the internet, which would be a fatal blow to the large financial emporium and its 7.5 million inhabitants.
However, the path followed by the CCP, which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determined to be one of a lack of transparency, coverup, and deceit that led to the violation of the international treaty protecting Hong Kong’s autonomy, does not hold much hope for the future.